Directed by Steve Boyum et al
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic
Running Time: 347 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, 2.0 stereo surround English
Subtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese
MSRP: $ 39.99
Release Date: June 17, 2008
Review Date: June 10, 2008
There have been television series which were canceled after their initial seasons, were resurrected over the summer, and then came back for successful network runs (two that come to mind immediately are The Dick Van Dyke Show and Cagney and Lacey, both ironically on CBS). Jericho got a reprieve of its own after being canceled at the conclusion of its first season due to an overwhelming fan reaction to the news of its cancellation. Alas, despite fashioning an outstanding set of second season episodes, CBS was not forthcoming with a renewal, and the seven episodes that constitute the second season of this often riveting apocalyptic drama put a definite period to the end of a truly fascinating saga.
The action picks right up where season one ended with the town of Jericho, Kansas, in the midst of a desperate recovery after watching a nuclear blast on the horizon suggesting that the United States was under attack and with important American cities being systematically wiped out. Ongoing with the fear of the extinction of the country is the more immediate clash with the neighboring town of New Bern which the town dealt with during the first season. To contain the violence and bring the area under control, the new government in Cheyenne, Wyoming, has sent in an army unit headed by Major Edward Beck (Esai Morales) who quickly appoints brothers Jake Green (Skeet Ulrich) and Eric Green (Kenneth Mitchell) as the town’s sheriff and mayor respectively. But there are lies being told to the citizens of Jericho and the rest of the surviving citizens of the U.S., and those in the know (including government agent Robert Hawkins played by Lennie James) are working undercover to bring the truth to light.
In addition to story after story of the struggles to stay one step ahead of the shady new government (represented by a ominous Big Brother-style organization called Jennings & Rall) and not be caught by the army, Jericho also keeps things on a human level with the touching story of farmer Stanley Richmond (Brad Beyer) and his fiancé Mimi Clark (Alicia Coppola). Their blossoming love amidst the confusion and carnage all around them takes on added dangerous dimensions after Mimi begins working for Jennings & Rall, an arrangement that will spell trouble for all concerned.
Each episode, though in the hands of different directors, features breathless action that will literally keep viewers on the edges of their seats, and if the touching relationship between Stanley, Mimi, and Stanley’s hearing impaired sister Bonnie doesn’t bring a tear or two to your eyes, I’d be very surprised. Yes, the show was placed in a problematic time period (one CBS has had inordinate trouble filling since the demise of Judging Amy), and a third season was a long shot by any standards. Still, the two seasons of Jericho can stand tall with the best action series ever on television.
Here’s a rundown of the seven episodes broadcast during the show’s second season. All episodes have accompanying commentaries. The participants in the commentaries are in parentheses next to the episode title:
1 - Reconstruction (Carol Barbee and Jonathan Steinberg)
2 - Condor (Matt Federman, Steve Scaia, Lennie James)
3 - Jennings & Rall (Karim Zreik, Kenneth Mitchell)
4 - Oversight (Dan Shotz, Robert Levine, Brad Beyer)
5 - Termination for Cause (Dan Shotz, Jonathan Steinberg, Alicia Coppola)
6 - Sedition (Carol Barbee, Skeet Ulrich)
7 - Patriots and Tyrants (Dan Shotz, Jonathan Steinberg)
The series was presented on CBS in 1080i, and these 480p down converted transfers have good and bad qualities. Almost all of the outside location photography comes across as somewhat hazy and a bit soft lacking noticeable detail. Soundstage footage looks much nicer with good sharpness, accurate flesh tones, and very rich black levels. Each episode is divided into 8 chapters.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix replicates the network broadcasts and is very involving. Music plays a major part in the dramatic structure of the scenes and plays very well in the surrounds. Due to the reduced budget for the show, not as much ambient sound has been fed to the surround channels as might be expected, but what’s here is certainly impressive with notably good use of the LFE channel.
Each episode has an audio commentary featuring important before and behind the camera personnel. My favorite commentary was the lively talk for episode 2. Episode 5’s commentary was also a very involving listening experience. The commentaries with Skeet Ulrich and Brad Beyer are the least impressive as the actors are more interested in watching the finished show rather than talking.
There are a total of 14 deleted/extended scenes offered on the two discs, at least one extra scene for each episode except episode 3. They can be played with or without commentary by Dan Shotz and Jonathan Steinberg.
Disc two offers the viewer two ways of watching the alternate unaired ending. (This footage was shot in the event the series was renewed to give the show a jumping off point for its next season.) The viewer may choose to see the complete episode 7 with the alternate unaired footage instead of what aired on the network, or he may select the unaired footage segment from the bonus feature menu. Commentary by Shotz and Steinberg is also available for the alternate ending if the viewer chooses to turn it on.
“Rebuilding Jericho” is a 26-minute anamorphic featurette on the production of season two complete with discussions about the lower budget, a reduced seven day shooting schedule, the major plots the season developed, and the subplots that had to fall by the wayside due to the network’s only ordering seven episodes.
“Nut Job” discusses the public’s on-line campaign to save Jericho after CBS canceled it after its first season. The anamorphic featurette runs 9 ¼ minutes.
The set offers previews of other Paramount TV box sets including Twin Peaks, Jericho-Season 1, and the CSI franchise.
Jericho’s action-packed and very emotionally involving seven episode second season stands as one of the best adventure shows of the 2007-2008 season. Though the series did not get picked up for a third go-round, fans should cherish these seven episodes as some of the finest TV has produced.